By Hope Rogers, Staff Writer
The Illinois primary election will be held on Tuesday, March 20. Several important seats will be decided as a result of this election, most notably the selection of the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial nominees who will eventually run against each other for the governor’s seat in the general election on November 6th.
Each candidate’s prioritization of issues, and resulting platform, varies depending on the constituents they aim to appeal to most. Preempted by the budget woes and funding disparities that have continually plagued school districts statewide, most acutely within Chicago Public Schools, education legislation has become a major point of contention within Illinois’ political sphere for the past several years. As the Payton community is comprised of a sizeable population of potential voters in this upcoming election, a population which includes unionized teachers, school administrators and students, educational policy is an issue of befitting importance, as the outcome of this primary will directly impact the aforementioned groups.
The elected governor will have the power to approve or veto new education legislation proposed at the state level, simultaneously possessing the ability to appoint new members to the Illinois State Board of Education and recommend state superintendents of education, provided they obtain Illinois Senate approval.
The majority of primary candidates have established at least a basic education policy, however, with a multitude of candidates to choose from, each representing the full spectrum of educational stances, which candidate aligns most closely with your views? Below, the educational policies of each candidate have been clearly outlined as the candidates themselves have expressed them through campaign literature and advertisements. External links for further information regarding each candidate’s platform are listed below each candidate’s description, who are listed alphabetically within each party subcategory.
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates
Daniel Biss Daniel Biss emphasizes higher education reform within his educational platform, a factor which distinguishes him from the other Democratic candidates. He plans on expanding accessibility to higher education in Illinois by making community and public colleges free. As a state representative, Biss introduced legislation in late 2017 to provide more transparent information to people withdrawing student loans, a law that is now known as the Student Loan Bill of Rights.
Along with the other prominent Democratic candidates, Biss supports measures to make school funding more equitable, especially by supporting neighborhood schools. All three Democratic candidates expressed support to lead a transition from funding public education through money collected from resident’s property taxes to doing so through a progressive income tax. Biss also agrees with his fellow Democratic contenders that a necessity exists for an elected school board in Chicago as well as increased public accountability of charter school networks.
More information on Biss’ policies and campaign can be found at www.danielbiss.com
Kennedy recently released a detailed outline for his education plan on his campaign website, which includes emphases on reforming school funding, prioritizing support for neighborhood schools, and providing protections for students’ social, mental, and physical health. His broad solution for education reform incorporates a variety of methods, including but not limited to adjustments to the state education budget, placing increased limitations on charter schools, and expanding early childhood education.
Additionally, he includes a number of unique points remiss in other candidates’ platforms, particularly a social-emotional learning initiative, funding for arts programs in public schools, and measures to prevent overcrowded school facilities.
More information on Kennedy’s policies and campaign can be found at www.kennedyforillinois.com
Pritzker focuses most of his educational reform suggestions on early childhood education, so much so that this topic remains the only education platform explicitly included on his website. His plan for early childhood education includes methods to encourage more children to start school at a lower age, as well as expanding supports for families, especially for low-income parents and their children.
Pritzker argues that because early childhood education is the foundation for the rest of a student’s educational path, this phase of learning should be prioritized in legislative efforts to improve Illinois’ educational system.
More information on Pritzker’s policies and campaign can be found at www.jbpritzker.com
Republican Gubernatorial Candidates
Ives does not focus very much on education policy in her campaign platform; in fact, she does not have a designated space for her educational stance on her campaign site. As a state legislator, she has supported school choice legislation in the past, indicating that she approves of the expansion of charter and private school programs. Within the school curriculum, Ives emphasizes abstinence-only sex education, and she previously voted against a bill in the House, which has since been passed into law, that requires schools to offer comprehensive sex education that includes coverage of contraceptive methods.
More information on Ives’ policies and campaign can be found at www.ivesforillinois.com
As the incumbent governor of Illinois, Rauner’s platform is based on the educational work he has already completed throughout his tenure as Governor, and how he plans to continue implementing such work in the future.
Rauner was recently involved in revisions made to SB1947, approving amendments to the bill in August of 2017. These amendments were designed to make the school funding formula more equitable for public schools, including a “tax credit scholarship” program, often compared to a voucher system, that provides tax credits through the state education budget to people who donate to private school scholarship funds.
Rauner argues that his education policy, including his recent legislative action, provides greater control to individual school districts by minimizing the necessity for state-wide requirements.
More information on Rauner’s policies and campaign can be found at www.brucerauner.com
If you turn eighteen by November 6, 2018 — the date of the general election — you are eligible to register and vote in the primary election on March 20, 2018. Even if you miss the initial deadline to register, it is possible to register on the day of the election at your local polling place.
For more information on the upcoming election, you can easily consult several online resources providing additional election, voting, and candidate information, including but not limited to the Illinois State Board of Elections website, individual candidate websites, or the candidate profiles that Dr. Bauer has emailed to the entire Payton student body.
No matter who you vote for, please take this opportunity to use your civic voice!